Jordan Spieth: Tee-to-green

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Jordan Spieth: Tee-to-green

March 17, 2014

Remember last year when Jordan Spieth's name seemed like a fixture on PGA Tour leader boards? The 20-year-old had one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory, including a win, three second-place finishes and nine top 10s. He also won two matches as a captain's pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup team.Impressive as all of that might seem, Spieth says it isn't good enough. You read that right. Perhaps the true mark of a champion isn't his or her accomplishments, but the determination to improve upon them. Spieth says he learned last year that he has to become a better all-around player. Find out what he told us on the beach in Maui.— Ron Kaspriske

AIRING IT OUT

"I can't start thinking everything went well last year," Spieth says. "Certain areas of my game need work, like my driving. My left-hand grip position got progressively weaker last season; my downswing was too steep; and I was hitting a lot of cuts. So I've strengthened my grip and spread my fingers out a little more on the club. Also, I figured out when I load up on my right side better, it makes my swing less steep. That's giving me more distance. I still can fade it, but when I see the ball draw five yards, I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing."DRIVING DISTANCE: 289 YDSPGA Tour rank: 80th (2013)

THE SPLASH SHOT

"Stats are important to me, especially the ones related to scoring. You're going to miss fairways and greens out here, so how you play from the sand really matters. In greenside bunkers, the big thing is to adapt your stance to the shot. It's rare that you get a flat lie in the sand, so I make sure to align my body to the slope. Then I blast the ball out by splashing the sand underneath it. I take some sand in fairway bunkers, too—I'm not a picker. I grip down, try to strike the ball solidly, and then the club gets some sand. It might fly a little shorter this way, but not a lot."PROXIMITY (GREENSIDE SAND): 7'9"PGA Tour rank: 21st (2013)

MAKING IT RAIN

GREENS IN REGULATION: 67%PGA Tour rank: 37th (2013)"I really want to play better in the majors. To do that, I've got to hit the ball higher with my longer irons. That would be a serious game-changer for me. I've got to bring these shots in softer on courses like Augusta or a U.S. Open setup. Working with my teacher, Cameron McCormick, I'm taking some of the pressure off my left foot as I go back, which helps me get my body behind the ball. The result is, I'm not hitting down on it as much. The ball launches higher and spins less, so I'm seeing a better ball flight."GREENS IN REGULATION: 67%PGA Tour rank: 37th (2013)

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